The House Energy and Commerce Committee launched an investigation into US Postal Service (USPS) about delivery delays for mail order medications, that was supported by NCPA (The National Community Pharmacists Association). NCPA sending a letter to the committee, in which recommend broadening its investigation to probe long-term problems with mail order prescription plans.
“The Trump Administration’s abrupt and sweeping operational changes at the Postal Service are severely delaying mail all around the nation. These delays are troubling across the board, but especially during a time when Americans are increasingly relying on mail services as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
At a time when the nation’s public health is already under significant threat, we’re deeply concerned and plan to investigate the impacts the Administration’s changes are having on the delivery of lifesaving prescription drugs to patients. In the coming days, we’re going to be asking online pharmacies, pharmacy benefit managers and the relevant trade associations about the impacts the Postal Service’s delays are having on getting lifesaving drugs to beneficiaries in a timely fashion.
We want to know what these organizations are hearing and what needs to be done to ensure Americans receive their medication without delay and without any additional costs,” – Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Health Subcommittee Chairwoman Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA) and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chair Diana DeGette (D-CO) announced in the press release.
Mail Order Prescriptions Are 8 Times More Costly Than a Retail Pharmacy
IQVIA (Quintiles and IMS Health, Inc.) calculated that while mail order usage has been growing during the pandemic, mail order prescriptions have become more expensive than traditional retail pharmacies. For example, $564.81 for the average mail order prescription compared to $71.27 for the average prescription from a retail pharmacy.
Also, NCPA reported about patient’s complaints “They request, beg, even plead, with mail order pharmacies to stop shipping medications that have been discontinued or are even for a deceased loved one, often to no avail. Often, patients even attempt to bring these unneeded drugs to their local community pharmacy for others to use, but there is no option but to dispose of thousands of dollars’ worth of prescription drugs. There are also concerns about degradation of prescription drugs sent through the mail and if they are safe and effective for patients to take after being delayed, poorly handled, and not maintained at certain temperatures.”
1 452 000 000 Prescription Drug Shipments a Year
According the National Association of Letter Carriers, the Postal Services now have 1 452 000 000 (one billion four hundred fifty-two million) prescription drug shipments a year.
“Given the increasing reliance on mail-order prescription delivery and the critical need to ensure all patients are receiving their medications in a timely manner, we are writing to request information to better understand how the changes within the Postal Service, may have impacted delivery of prescription medications and the health and well-being of Americans,” the Committee leaders wrote. “These changes are particularly worrisome in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, and we are interested in learning about both the impacts that have already occurred and what you anticipate happening if the changes are fully implemented after the election.”
“Policymakers should investigate the cost and safety of mail order prescriptions as well as the impacts of any delivery delays on drug safety and efficacy,” Karry La Violette, NCPA senior vice president of government affairs said. “We’re confident they will find that in many cases there are better, more reliable options – namely, patients’ neighborhood pharmacies – to help improve outcomes, protect patient choice, and control costs.”
In conclusion the Committee requested documents and answers to a series of questions no later than September 11, 2020.